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| by Cairo Capital Clinics

The Myths, Methods, Risks and Facts About Cancer Doctors Want You to Know

Unraveling the mystery of cancer...Whenever we hear that someone is diagnosed with cancer we immediately think that it is a matter of days to months and that there is no cure, well that is wrong. To understand what I mean, first we must know what cancer is.

What is cancer?

Cancer is the rapid uncontrolled growth of normal cells in our bodies. As we have an efficient immune system, when cells grow out of control our immune system destroys these cells by a method called apoptosis which is ordering the cell to undergo suicide, but in cancer patients there is a deficiency in their immune system because of DNA damage, thus allowing these cells to grow freely.

What are the risk factors?

Until now we don’t know the direct cause of cancer but we have determined the risk factors which can help in the development of cancer including:

1. Smoking: Of course, on the top of the list is smoking which is known to be a risk factors for most types of cancers.

2. Alcohol

3. Processed meat and red meat (undercooked)

4. Pollution

5. Exposure to radiation and chemicals

6. Obesity, improper diet and lack of exercise

7. Viruses: like hepatitis B and C, human papilloma viruses

8. Family history

Avoiding these risk factors can decrease the possibility of developing cancer. In general, leading a healthy life can protect us from many diseases including cancer.

Cancer if discovered early enough, it can be surgically removed and sometimes chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy can be avoided. Until today, only a handful of cancers can be detected early including breast, colon, cervix, lung, prostate and liver. In general, this is done through clinical examination by an oncologist (cancer doctor) and he/she would request further investigations to be done for checkup.

Methods to treat cancer:

- Surgery to remove the cancer is the main approach whenever possible, nowadays surgical techniques have improved and it is not necessary to remove the whole diseased organ. For instance, breast cancer can be removed without removing the breast.

- Chemotherapy uses chemicals that can attack rapidly dividing cells like cancer but also they attack other normal rapidly dividing cells like hair, skin, mucous membrane in our mouth and blood cells and this explains their side effects. Nowadays, we have targeted therapies which can specifically kill cancer cells and avoid normal cells and there is the immune therapies which are drugs that stimulate the normal immunity of the body to kill cancer cells.

- Radiotherapy which entails the usage of certain types of radiation like x-rays and direct them towards the cancer cells to kill it.

Myths about cancer:

- To start with, cancer is not a single disease, as I mentioned before, these are cells that divide out of control so it can arise from any part or organ in the body.

- No, cancer can not be transmitted

- Chemotherapy doesn’t affect any of the people surrounding the patient, nor kids or newborns.

- Yes, people receiving chemotherapy can work, travel, drive and practice sports, i.e. live normally.

- No specific food to be avoided during treatment unless mentioned by your oncologist.

I hope that I have shed some data about cancer and how to detect and manage it. Later, we will talk about specific cancers with how to detect them early, diagnose and treat them in future articles.

Written by: Dr. Ahmed Magdy, Lecturer and Consultant of Medical Oncology

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Tags: Cancer  Breast cancer  Breast cancer awareness  Health  Health tips  Healthy lifestyle